5 Revolutionary War Resources to Bring the Past to Life

Putting together Scope's March 2018 nonfiction feature, “Blood, Smoke, and Freedom”—the incredible story of Joseph Plumb Martin's life as teenage soldier in the American Revolution—we were transported to another time. We’ve collected a few of our favorite resources for your students to explore after they read the article. Your students can then choose from one of the culminating tasks listed at the end of this post.


Essential Questions

Post these questions in your classroom for students to refer to as they explore the resources.

1. Why are wars fought?

2. How are wars fought?

3. Why is it important to learn about the American Revolution?


Five resources to keep your students’ learning going:


Library of Congress

1. These 1774-1791 newspaper headlines from Boston, Philadelphia, Trenton, Saratoga, and Yorktown will allow your class to experience the American Revolution as it unfolded.



Library of Congress

2. This interactive timeline is truly spectacular! Click on beautiful images of artifacts (like this Continental bank note) to zoom, read more, and view video podcasts from the curatorial department. Artifacts span from 1750 through the Revolutionary War and all the way to 2009.



Sarin Images / Granger

3. This interactive primary document-based game takes your students on a journey to 1770 Boston through the eyes of 14-year-old Nat Wheeler, who must choose sides in the American Revolution. Once students finish the game, have them compare Nat Wheeler’s experience with that of Joseph Plumb Martin in "Blood, Smoke, and Freedom.”



4. Have students read these additional exceprts from Joseph Plumb Martin’s Diary. Then have students imagine they are fighting in the Revolutionary War and write a diary entry of their own. Students should draw on information in “Blood, Smoke, and Freedom” as well as in the resources above. Encourage students to use lots of descriptive details!



5. Take a virtual field trip with author Lauren Tarshis to the Museum of the American Revolution. Lauren takes students behind the scenes of the museum and reveals fascinating artifacts and stories from the war, including a closer look at Joseph Plumb Martin's experience. After the field trip, students can respond to these questions (scroll down for grades 6-8) as a class or in small groups.


Four engaging activities to choose from:

For Struggling Readers

In a well-organized paragraph, explain what it was like to be a soldier in the American army during the Revolutionary War. Use text evidence from “Blood, Smoke, and Freedom,” the diary excerpt “Learn to Be a Soldier,” and any of the resources above.

For Advanced Readers

In a well-organized essay, explain what it was like to be a soldier in the American army during the Revolutionary War. Use details from the article, diary, video, and resources above to support your answer.

For Historians

Why was the Battle of Brooklyn important in the American Revolution? Answer this question in a well-organized essay. Use information from the article, the video, and at least one additional source to support your ideas.

For Writers

Imagine that Joseph Plumb Martin has been asked to give a speech for George Washington’s inauguration as the first president of the United States. Write that speech drawing on information in the article, diary, video, and/or any of the resources above.

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